Do aches and pains have you out of joint? Concerns culminating in the withdrawal of several selective Cox-2 inhibitors, like Vioxx, have many arthritis sufferers turning to the supplement aisle in search of relief.

Could diet and exercise provide more reliable solutions? Here’s a roundup of recent research into those foods that help support healthy joints:

* Red bell peppers: Just one contains more than 470 percent of your daily vitamin C needs (yellow peppers contain 450 percent and green peppers contain 190 percent). According to a Boston University study, people getting under 150 milligrams daily of vitamin C had a faster cartilage breakdown. Other top sources of vitamin C are citrus fruit, pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, papaya, strawberries, tomatoes, kale, collard greens, and sweet potatoes.

* Button mushrooms: an unexpected source of vitamin D, adequate levels of which decrease vulnerability to arthritis pain. Sunshine enables your body to produce vitamin D; other sources include oysters, sardines, and fortified non-fat dairy.

While the foods cited above have compounds with targeted joint health benefits, Harvard researchers found a more general link between high fruit and vegetable consumption and lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

What to limit? Red meat. British researchers found that too much red meat increased the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Those who ate the most red meat were twice as likely to develop the condition than those who limited their intake to less than 1 ounce per day.

Eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables also helps maintain a healthy weight – an important facet of managing joint pain. If you’re among the majority of Americans who are either obese or overweight, slimming down can significantly slow the progression of joint degeneration and ease pain. In fact, you can reduce knee stress by 40 to 80 pounds with a mere 10-pound weight loss.

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